Biden could make decision on continuing re-election campaign within days, Hawaii governor says

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Hawaii Gov. Josh Green, a Democrat, said Saturday that President Biden could make a decision within days on whether he stays in the presidential election race to seek a second term in the White House.

This comes after Green participated in a recent meeting with Biden and nearly two dozen other Democrat governors amid concerns about the president’s re-election campaign, following the president’s shaky debate performance last month against former President Donald Trump.

“I think the president stays in this race unless he feels that it is not winnable, or he feels that he has to hear other voices in his inner circle that he shouldn’t run,” Green, whose family has known the president for years, said in an interview with The Associated Press. “If the president felt that he wasn’t up to it and truly not up to it, he would step down.”

“We’ll probably know in the next couple of days how the president feels about all this,” he added.


President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden walk with Hawaii Gov. Josh Green, second from left, and his wife Jaime Green

President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden walk with Hawaii Gov. Josh Green, second from left, and his wife Jaime Green as they pass the massive Banyan tree while visiting areas devastated by the Maui wildfires, Aug. 21, 2023, in Lahaina, Hawaii. (AP)

Green said he believes Biden should be allowed to pick who should replace him on the ticket if he were to exit the race and that the president would likely designate Vice President Kamala Harris as his replacement.

“I think it’s very clear that the Democratic Party would be ecstatic overall to have the president designate his vice president if it came to that,” Green said.

Harris “is a powerful person, she is also a thought-leading woman, she’s an African American who was [California’s] attorney general,” Green said. “There are no credentials that are better than what the current vice president has.”

Biden, 81, has repeatedly insisted over the past week and a half that he will remain in the race, including in an interview with ABC News that aired Friday night.

But concerns about the president’s mental acuity have been raised, including by members of his party, since his debate performance. Some Democrats have called on Biden to leave the presidential race, while others in the party, particularly governors, have said they continue to support his re-election.

Green said his prediction for the president to make a decision within a few days takes into account expected pressure that could be placed on the president when congressional lawmakers return to Capitol Hill this week.

Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., is working to gather support from Democrat senators, aiming for a meeting on Monday, to discuss pressuring Biden to drop out of the presidential race. Additionally, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., is leading a virtual meeting with top Democrats on Sunday, with leaders expected to discuss the path forward for Biden’s campaign.

President Biden

President Joe Biden speaks during a campaign event at the Martin Luther King Recreation Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, US, on Thursday, April 18, 2024. (Hannah Beier/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

“I really, honestly think that he has to make the decision,” Green said. “And it should not come from another governor. It should not come from anyone but the closest, closest advisers to him and his own heart.”

Green also highlighted that Trump, who is 78-years-old and the biggest threat to Biden’s re-election, is only three years younger than Biden and that both will experience cognitive lapses going forward.

But, Green argued, temperament is more important than age in the presidential race.

“For God’s sake, these two guys have to hold the nuclear codes. I don’t want someone who tweets in the middle of the night and rages at other countries,” Green said, referring to Trump. “That is not good. That’s not the problem we have with President Biden.”

Green, who was a physician before moving to the governor’s mansion, said everyone has elderly parents or grandparents who experience pauses in their ability to express themselves clearly or other mental lapses, but that they are not pushed aside since they still possess great experience and wisdom and have a role in the family.

“That’s why I’m standing by the president until he tells me otherwise,” Green said.

Green also offered some insight into the meeting with Biden and other Democrat governors. Green said he asked Biden about his health, to which the president responded by saying everything was fine except for his brain.


Governor of Hawaii Josh Green

Governor of Hawaii Josh Green speaks during a press conference about the destruction of historic Lahaina and the aftermath of wildfires in western Maui in Wailuku, Hawaii on August 10, 2023. (Patrick T. Fallon / AFP via Getty Images)


The comment from Biden, which was previously made public, was made in jest, according to Green, who said that context was lost when leaked by other people.

“It was absolutely a joke, and in order to make a self-deprecating joke, you have to have intact cognitive function, period,” Green said.

Green also pushed back on claims that advisers set up the meeting to have governors supportive of Biden speak first to quell any critics. The Hawaii governor said the reality was that the meeting featured a very candid, unscripted conversation with governors of differing perspectives.

“That call had just like you’d expect in a coffee shop, a few people mouthed off, a few people, you know, probably excessively praised the president, but almost everybody was just trying to see, ‘Are we OK?’” Green said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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